May 9, 2007
Florida State hosts ACC Tournament
Thursday-Sunday, May 10-13 l Tallahassee, Fla.
JoAnne Graf Field at Seminole Softball Complex (1,000)
First Pitch (What You Need To Know):
After winning a school record 13 conference games, the Florida State softball plays hosts to the ACC Tournament. The Seminoles, the fourth seed in the tournament, open the four-day affair on Thursday (May 10) at 5:30 p.m. vs. No. 5 seed North Carolina.
This will be the 11th time in 16 years that Florida State has hosted the ACC Tournament. FSU has won eight of the previous ten on its home field. Virginia (1994) and Georgia Tech (2003) are the only other two schools to claim the title in Tallahassee
Rookie outfielder Monica Montez (Corona, Calif.) was named ACC Freshman of the Year by the league coaches. It’s the sixth time a Florida State player was named the league’s top rookie. The last was Tiffany McDonald in 2005.
Florida State led all teams with five All-ACC selections: First Team: shortstop Yuruby Alicart (Maracay, Venezuela): Second Team: Outfielder Whitney Buckmon (Stone Mountain, Ga.), pitcher Tiffany McDonald (Belfair, Wash), outfielder Monica Montez and second baseman Veronica Wootson (Fontana, Calif.)
Last season the Seminoles, seeded fifth, advanced to their 11th ACC Championship game where they lost 4-1 to NC State. Pitcher Tiffany McDonald and outfielder Carly Brieske were both named to the All-Tournament Team.
Coming into the tournament, FSU has won 14 of its last 16 games.
All-Region shortstop Yuruby Alicart comes into the tournament on a 14-game hitting streak, the second longest on the team this year.
Florida State Plays Host To ACC Tournament For 11th Time
With the regular season complete, the second season begins Thursday (May 10) as the Florida State softball team plays host to the 16th Annual ACC Championship. Fourth seeded FSU (42-21 overall, 13-7 ACC) opens the tournament at 5:30 p.m. versus the number five seed North Carolina (43-17, 11-9). This will be the 11th time the Seminoles have served as host with Florida State winning the title eight of the ten previous years. The last time the Seminoles hosted the event was 2004 as they started their march to the Women’s College World Series. Every game during the first three days of the tournament will be broadcast live on ACC Select with Sunday’s championship game live on television.
Seminoles Trying To Win Third Straight Versus North Carolina
Florida State and North Carolina should be very familiar with one another since the two teams met just two weeks ago in Chapel Hill to decided the four and five seeds. After dropping the opener, 4-2, thanks to four unearned runs, the Seminoles came back to take games two and three, 3-2 & 6-3, to win the series. Florida State holds an 8-3 advantage over North Carolina in the ACC Tournament, but is just 2-3 in the last five meetings. The Seminoles won the only tourney game in Tallahassee, 8-0, in 2004, which was also the last meeting. The two teams met in nine of the first ten tournaments, but have only met once since 2002. Overall Florida State leads the series 47-14 over the Tar Heels, 14-3 at home, but North Carolina took two of three last year in Tallahassee.
Florida State Always Strong One Day One Of ACC Tournament
The Seminoles always come out of the gate fast in the ACC Tournament as is evidence with their 14-1 mark in the opener. The only loss was a 3-2 decision to Virginia Tech during the epic 14-inning battle – which set the ACC record for innings – to start the 2005 tournament. Florida State has outscored its opponents 62-22 in the tournament opener with three run rule victories – including last year’s 10-1 thumping of Georgia Tech – but can win the close ones as is seen with eight one-run victories. This is the third time Florida State has opened the ACC summit against North Carolina after victories to start the 1997 (5-4) and 1999 (2-1) tourneys.
We Must Protect This House!
Without a doubt, home field advantage is going to be key for the Seminoles during the ACC Tournament. In the 10 previous tournaments, Florida State holds a 28-6 record and comes into Thursday’s game having won six games in a row at home after sweeps of the 2003 and 2004 tournaments. The only time FSU hasn’t made the championship game at home was 2002 when it lost back-to-back games to Georgia Tech and North Carolina. FSU ran off ten-straight tournament wins at home from 1995 to the second game of the 2000 championship.
Seminoles Coming Into The Tournament On A Roll
Despite the 7-2 loss to Auburn, the Seminoles come into the league summit playing some of their best softball of the season. Florida State has won 14 of its last 16 games over the last month, which is its best run-up to the ACC Tournament since it won 24 in a row coming into the 2003 tourney. During this streak, the Seminoles are hitting .311 as a team, averaging 5.3 runs per game and the pitching staff has posted a 1.40 ERA. The Seminoles have benefited from the long ball during this stretch with 13 home runs in the 16 games. Pacing Florida State during this time is Yuruby Alicart with a .435 average. In the circle, freshman Terese Gober (McDonough, Ga.) is 5-0 with a 0.61 ERA and lefty Melissa May (San Diego, Calif.) has 1.79 ERA and 4-0 mark. The hot streak has moved FSU up to 30th in the latest NFCA RPI.
Alicart Is En Fuego No player on the team comes into the tournament swinging a hotter bat than shortstop Yuruby Alicart. The senior is hitting .435 over her last 16 games to up her average by 33 points from .300 following the Georgia Tech series to .333 after Auburn. During the span she has crossed the plate a team-best 16 times to go along with 15 RBIs, six doubles and four RBIs. At last year’s tournament she was second on the team with a .400 average, including a home run. Alicart enters the tourney riding a 14-game hitting streak, which is second behind Veronica Wootson’s 15-game streak. The Florida State career leader with a .635 slugging percentage, she has moved up to number two in school history with 26 home runs and fourth with 34 doubles. Alicart rates among the ACC leaders in six categories, including third with 0.24 doubles, and is on four lists during conference games.
Regular Season Improvement
Going into the ACC Tournament the Seminoles have made tremendous strides from this point last season. In the most important category, FSU has three more wins and four fewer losses from a year ago. While FSU is hitting nine point lower (.297-to-.289), they’ve been more productive with 38 more runs. The biggest improvement has been the pitching staff. With three productive hurlers, the Seminoles have lowered their ERA from 2.78 to 1.64, which is the second lowest rate in the ACC and 17th nationally. FSU pitchers have also done a better job of keeping the ball in the park with 18 fewer home runs given up. Showing all-around improvement, Florida State has upped its fielding percentage to .962 from .950 a year ago.
The Breeze Is Strong This Time Of The Year
Having almost as good of month at the plate as Yuruby Alicart has been first baseman Brittany Osmon (San Diego, Calif.). “The Breeze” is second the team during the last month with her .393 batting average while hitting a team-high five home runs, including a school record with a home run in four-straight games. Three doubles and a triple have given her a 1.107 slugging percentage while nine walks have helped produce a team-best .553 on-base percentage. Osmon, who hit .308 at last year’s tourney, has a knack for getting hot at the end of the year after hitting .333 during the month of May last year.
Three Is Plenty Of Company For FSU In The Circle
The Seminoles have the most unique pitching staff in the conference. Florida State is the only team with three pitchers all ranked in the top ten for ERA: Tiffany McDonald (2nd – 1.38), Melissa May (5th – 1.67) and Terese Gober (6th – 1.87). All three have thrown at least 100 innings and won 12 games. McDonald has been the top pitcher on the staff, but has had the misfortune of losing eight times when she has given up one earned run or less. Gober’s 13 wins are just one back of McDonald’s 14 from 2005 which is the most by a freshman since Jen White-Stokes won 26 games in 1998.
Rookies Playing A Big Role For The Seminoles
Even though Florida State brought back a half dozen players from last year that saw action in at least 50 games, the freshman class has been huge this year. Outfielder Carly Wynn (Sharpsburg, Ga.) is tops on the team with a .346 average, which is tenth in the ACC and second among rookies. Catcher Robin Ahrberg (Stillwater, Okla.) is fourth on the team with 23 RBIs and is among the national leaders at 0.29 sacrifice per game. In the circle, pitcher Terese Gober has a 13-4 record and 116 strikeouts in 116.1 innings. Super subs Amanda Moore (Niceville, Fla.) and Courtney Rosen (Sugarland, Texas) have come off the bench to score 23 runs as pinch runners.
Wootson Continues Record Book Ascension
All season long two-time All-American second baseman Veronica Wootson has been climbing the national, conference and school record books. Most recently she moved up to No. 22 in NCAA history with 855 career at-bats and the 29th spot at 193 runs scored. Within the ACC ranks, she is second in runs, sixth for hits (273), seventh in triples (22) and tenth for home runs (28). On the Florida State charts she has reached the top ten of 10 categories, including the top spot on the home run list. Wootson is among the national leaders for stolen bases (32nd – 0.52 per game) and runs per game (43rd – 0.9)
Graf Three Wins Shy Of Becoming First Coach To Reach 1,400 Wins
To go along with trying to lead her team to its 11th ACC Tournament title, head coach Dr. JoAnne Graf can reach a personal milestone as well this week. The winningest coach in NFCA history, Dr. Graf comes into the tournament needing just three wins to become the first coach to reach the 1,400 win plateau. Last year she became just the second coach in NCAA history to reach 1,200 victories. Dr. Graf has reached four other milestones against ACC schools, including her 1,300th win versus Virginia Tech on April 3, 2005, the day after they named the field in her honor.